Governor again sounds alarm on COVID, health care capacity

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Gov. Andy Beshear reminded residents Tuesday that COVID-19 cases are already surging across the commonwealth and the entire nation and pose a serious threat to the state’s health care system, a threat that could impact residents far beyond the coronavirus pandemic.

“The virus exponential growth could accelerate further after the Thanksgiving holiday if our families don’t celebrate differently this year.” he implored during his daily breifing.

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“The number of people we lose is compounded when community spread is as high as it is and when it overwhelms the health care capacity of a state or region. This is happening in real time across the country,” said Gov. Beshear. “It’s starting to happen here in Kentucky. If we do not stop the exponential growth of cases, we will exceed our health care capacity. We will experience more loss and more death than we have to.”

When asked later about the state’s medical facilities getting overwhelmed and having to compete with other state’s to hire contract medical professionals, Beshear said the state would be at a disadvantage.

“If we don’t stop the escalation, we will exceed our health care capacity…we will run out of doctors and nurses…We won’t be able to compete with what some other states will be able to pay,” he said of the potential bidding war for health care workers from other states.

He also said a problem with enforcing rules and other aspects of checking on the spread of the virus is how workers at health departments in some areas are being treated by those who don’t believe in the virus, masks mandates or related coronavirus issues.

“Health departments are scared, the workers are scared to report their local numbers, scared to do enforcement because of the treatment,” he said, calling the critics “unchristian.”

“Protect your family at Thanksgiving this year so they will be here at Christmas next year,” said Gov. Beshear, noting Ohio announced 98 COVID-19 deaths Tuesday, Indiana announced 103, and Wisconsin announced 104.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends Americans avoid Thanksgiving travel.

As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24, Gov. Beshear reported the following COVID-19 numbers:

  • New cases today: 2,690, bringing total cases to 162,838
  • New deaths today: 17
  • Positivity rate: 8.82%, which has declined slightly for two days
  • Total deaths: 1,809
  • Currently hospitalized: 1,658, which is up 469 in two weeks
  • Currently in ICU: 390
  • Currently on ventilator: 207

Top counties with the most positive cases today are: Jefferson, Fayette, Hardin and Madison, which had 80 new cases, Nelson which had 54, Pike which had 49, Jessamine which had 34 along with Laurel and Pulaski, and Montgomery which had 33.

The red zone counties for this week can be found here. Community leaders, businesses, schools and families in these counties should all follow red zone reduction recommendations.

Those reported lost to the virus Tuesday include a 90-year-old woman from Calloway County; two women, ages 64 and 81, and a 52-year-old man from Daviess County; an 81-year-old man from Hardin County; a 67-year-old man from Henry County; an 86-year-old woman and five men, ages 64, 67, 75, 76 and 88, from Jefferson County; a 78-year-old woman from Kenton County; a 60-year-old man from Martin County; a 90-year-old woman from McLean County; an 88-year-old woman from Metcalfe County; and an 81-year-old woman from Shelby County.

Finally, the Governor reminded Kentuckians that receiving one negative COVID-19 test result days before a “gathering can’t guarantee that you won’t infect others at that event.”

“It can take time for an infection to show up in a test,” said Gov. Beshear. “Please keep your Thanksgiving celebration as small as you can.”

KDPH especially advises against travel to any state with a positivity rate of 15% or higher. Currently, those states are: Wyoming (58.89%), South Dakota (44.14%), Iowa (43.14%), Idaho (40.12%), Kansas (38.23%), Pennsylvania (25.40%), New Mexico (23.87%), Missouri (22.59%), Alabama (22.15%), Utah (19.62%), Montana (18.71%), Arizona (18.54%), Mississippi (18.23%), Oregon (16.30%) and Ohio (15.87%).

To view the full daily report, incidence rate map, new statewide requirements, testing locations, long term-care and other congregate facilities update, school reports and guidance, red zone counties, red zone recommendations, the White House Coronavirus Task Force reports for Kentucky and other key guidance visit, kycovid19.ky.gov.

New requirements impact restaurants, bars, social gatherings, indoor fitness and recreation centers, venues and theaters, professional services and schools. See the full executive orders here and here.